27 March, 2014

Doodle Blocks

I have a number of small quilts that I made over the years for one reason or another.
My tulip wandered a little outside the box...
This little appliqued tulip block represents one of the years I served on the a very special quilt show committee.
My thread tension was off on the web, but I sort of like the look.
In addition to the work we did to host an annual quilt show, committee members contributed their time and talents to create a raffle quilt. 
The proceeds from our show and the raffle quilt helped provide scholarships for students attending the the local community college.
I often include spiders and other surprise critters in my quilting.
Using leftover fabrics from the raffle quilt
each quilt show committee member made a block of their own to wear on our black pull-over vests during the show.

Inspiration for a bed-sized Dresden Plate quilt in my pile of PIPs.
These blocks represent two of the years I served on the committee.  
I never had time to quilt them way back when...
but it's been fun to go back and work on them
as quilting warm-up projects.

These two seem appropriate to share for a touch of spring.

I have lots of small pieces created over the years and plenty of sample blocks left over from various projects that work well to pull out and doodle with once in a while.

Brie has had some challenging days as of late.  
Today was a little better so I will be working through a little quilting therapy in my studio this evening.

Happy Quilting!

25 March, 2014

Prodigy Online Quilters Block Swap

While doing the laundry this morning I was contemplating ideas or something interesting to post today.

I literally pulled this one out of the dryer...

It's not an antique or even a vintage quilt, by any means.  
I is not even from my early days of making quilts.  
The blocks were made in 1991,
the top was assembled in 1994,
and it was quilted in 2007.
It does bring back fond memories
of my earliest days as an 'Online Quilter'.

Some of you may remember back in 1990 when online services were first getting started.  I signed up for the Prodigy service to facilitate working from home, which allowed me more time to spend with my family and quilting!

Prodigy, AOL, Genie, etc., were the first online services available. Originally they operated independent of one another, until these networks and others were linked together to become the World Wide Web.  As I recall my Prodigy membership cost about $12.95 per month for dial-up service.  Dial-up seemed fast in those days - but back then some of the largest hard drives were less than 50mb.  My cell phone far exceeds that!

As part of the service, Prodigy members were able to sign up for any number of groups covering all types of topics, including quilting.  You know what happens when you get a group of quilters in the same place?  Well, similar things happen when they meet via the computer.  We shared ideas and participated in all types of quilt-related activities including fabric and block swaps.  

The group had a name...'Online Quilters' and we became so well established that we had pins made to help us identify each other at various quilt shows and events. Were you an Online Quilter?
I still have my pin on my fabric chatelaine.

The 'Blue Star Block' swap was organized by one person who signed up 12 people willing to make 12 blocks, sign them, and send them in.  Once all 12 sets of blocks were collected, they were divided into 12 separate sets of 12 different blocks and returned to each of the participants. (I hope that makes sense.)

I have a list of the names in one of my quilt scrapbooks, but they are packed away while our remodeling continues.  So, as much as I can still read them from the quilt the blocks were made by:
Elise Dee Beqarg?
Sandy Matthews

Karen Abrahamovick, Essex Jct., Vermont
Lynda Baig, Orlando, Florida

Sue Bensit, Beverly, New Jersey
Nancy McDonald, ___paign, __?
Ellen Crockett, Springfield, Virginia
Kathie Evanoff, Ohio
Linda F., Phoenix, Arizona
Donna Carter, Mission Viejo, California
June Cloutier, Feeding Hills, Massachusetts
Me - in my home town of Escondido, C
If you happen to be one of these quilters, or know one of them, I would love to hear from you.  I apologize for making a bit of a mess on the names.  Since my quilt has been completed it gets washed - a lot!

When my set of blocks arrived they ended up put away for a little while.  I pulled them out and assembled the top in 1994.  It hung in my quilt shop as inspiration and a conversation piece.  When the shop closed - so that I could care for a loved one - the top ended up packed away with it's intended pieced backing.

It stayed in a box that moved when we did until 2007 when I had met a very nice couple with a long arm machine.  Wayne and Rita, both members of a local quilt guild, announced that after lots of practice they were ready to start quilting for others.  I gave Wayne the top, backing, 100% cotton batting AND free reign to quilt this one as he pleased.  He did an overall meandering design with stars popped in to strategic places.

Since being completed it has been well loved and used on Brie's bed, which is why it was being washed and dried in time to become to topic of today's post.

We had some nice weather over the weekend which was a treat.  We spent a good bit of time outside cleaning up after Old Man Winter.  He has returned to visit us again today.  He better not make any more messes!

I am spending some quality time in my studio.  As soon as I hit publish will be moving over to my sewing machine to do a little quilting.

Happy Quilting!

20 March, 2014


As of 12:57 p.m. EDT it is officially SPRING!
I can't remember a year I have been so ready for winter to be over.
(Except for when we lived in New England!)
All of the snow on our property has finally melted,
even the few inches we just got on Monday.

The first tulips to show up in my yard will be the ones in the quilt above which will greet visitors and passers from our front porch.
 I made a series of quilts for this purpose a long time ago.
It is especially nice to see this one ... though looking at it now I think it could use a little more quilting.

"Spring is nature's way of saying, "Let's party!"
-- Robin Williams

Happy Spring to One and All!

18 March, 2014

Photoshoped Inspiration

On Saturday the sunrise at our house was absolutely glowing.
Today, just for fun, I experimented with a few Photoshop options...
 I found that by using the 'cutout' effect in the artistic palette I end up with an image that defines the layers of colors in the photo in an interesting way.
 I think it will be fun to use this image as a starting point for an landscape art quilt.
 Imagine the possibilities of using this technique 
on photos of all sorts of things,
including people!

Can't you just imagine free-motion cutting fabrics to create an image and then filling in some of the details with free-motion machine stitching?
I can!

So much inspiration...so little time!
Happy Quilting,

14 March, 2014

A Feathered Star Named 'Sweetheart'

I have to say it has been sooooooo good to be quilting again.  It never ceases to amaze me how much of a calm, relaxed feeling I get sitting at my sewing machine to work on a quilt.  I can block out all the worries of the world. 
I love to piece quilts and do hand work also, but there is something about machine quilting that makes my heart go pitter pat!  I do most of my machine quilting on my Bernina 150 Virtuosa.  I can't believe it turned 15 years old last December.  We are attached at the hip and I can't imagine ever having to replace her.  Don't get me wrong, I have looked at newer models with all the bells and whistles but I always come home to my Bernie.  We will be together until death us do part.
I have tried long arm machines.  
My DH, Mr. Splinters (aka my biggest fan and primary enabler) told me several years ago purchase a long arm machine if I wanted one.
I test drove every one on the market at the time only to discover each one was missing a critical factor for me --- when I am quilting I love holding on to the quilt!  Machines just do not give me the same tactile pleasure I get from a quilt. When I am quilting with Bernie, or any of my other home machines including treadles, I am often surrounded by the quilt I am working with. I love that feeling!  Just like I love snuggling under one to read a good book or sleep. 
One of the reasons I started quilting and have kept going all these years is because I love the feel of quilts. So large or small I quilt using my home machines and treadles - most often my Bernie.
Now that you know a little more about me than you may have wanted to know,
check out the photos of another PIP that I can finally check off the 'to do' list.
Thank makes 3 completed PIPs in less than 1 month.
I pieced this Feathered Star about 7 or 8 years ago.
Have I mentioned I love a challenge?!
The entire little quilt is just under 9 inches.
It is NOT paper pieced!
That would eliminate thrill I get from the challenge to piece a quilt as accurately as I possibly can.

Guess what...this is not the smallest Feathered Star I have made.
'Stars and Stripes', 2009, 18" x 18"
That Feathered Star in the center is one I made for the AQSG Itty Bitty Challenge and Fundraiser in 2009.  AQSG members participated by making a 4-inch (finished) block that was an Itty Bitty version of a larger block pattern.  The blocks could be pieced, appliquéd, or embroidered and worked by hand or machine.  Members of the Endowment committee used the blocks to make wall quilts. The finished quilts were auctioned off in December 2009.
Images of the finished quilts from the Itty Bitty Quilt Challenge may be seen by clicking here.
I was not lucky enough to win the auction for 'Stars and Stripes' so I guess one of these days I will have to make another 4-inch finished feathered star for keeps.

Happy quilting!

12 March, 2014

'Washington's Eagle II' - A Wool Whole Cloth Quilt

A few years ago, late 2010 I think it was, I received an email from a quilt history friend, Sue Wildemuth, asking if I might be interested in making a quilt that would become part of a collection of quilts she was putting together.  You see, Sue collects Eagle quilts.  She came up with an idea to have a number of quilt historians and artists design a quilt that would represent a chosen decade beginning with the 1770s through 2010.  Not only do I love Eagle quilts, I love a challenge and this one sounded like fun.
'Washington's Eagle'
'Washington's Eagle' was the quilt I made for Sue. My decade was the 1790s.  It is a whole cloth wool with a fine gold silk dupioni on the reverse. I quilted this one with gold silk thread.  The Eagle was inspired by the image of an eagle that appears on several buttons that commemorate the re-election of George Washington in 1792 and his second inauguration as President of the United States in 1793.

You can read more about my quilt and others from Sue's collection in her book recently published by Schiffer Publishing.

When my quilt was finished, Mr. Splinters decided he liked it enough that he wanted either the one I made for Sue or another one. I liked it too and I had enough hand dyed wool to make a second quilt, but I was out of the silk that was a gift from a friend.  I did have some linen though and thought that might be an interested combination to work with.  The layers were basted shortly after the original was shipped out, but as too often happens quilts I do for fun get pushed into the PIP (Project In Progress) box in favor of meeting other deadlines.  Now that I am reclaiming my quilt life, following all the drama of recent months, I pulled my basted eagle quilt out of the box and started quilting.
 I had to reacquaint myself with the basic design I came up with for the original quilt.  It was drawn on freezer paper overlapped and pressed together to have a large enough sheet for the finished size of the quilt.
 From my sketch I traced the eagle onto template plastic so that I could transfer it with reasonable accuracy.
The white stitching that shows in the working photos is wash-away thread used to stabilize the quilt and mark the areas to be filled with quilting.
I cut the template apart to make it easier to draw the basic shapes that make up the eagle and his shield.  The breast plate is marked to indicate the center of the eagle design, which in this quilt will match the center of the quilt.
The outlines of the remaining shapes were traced onto the quilt.
Finally the quilting started.
I outlined the basic shapes and then went back to fill in the details.
You can see some of the details being filled in.
I love to draw with my needle and thread.
Occasionally, when things need to line up like the designs in the upper part of the wings, I use a chalk pencil to draw some guidelines. Because they are also drawn by me they are seldom perfect, but to me that is the charm of free-motion quilting.
Perfection is nice but the characteristics that make it clear it is my work is better.
If I wanted perfection every time I would program the design into my embroidery machine.
Once the eagle was complete I got to start on the feathers.
The feathers in this quilt are a bit more contemporary in style than my original eagle quilt.
I wanted the original quilt to represent a the 1790s.
Because the feathers were allowed to overlap the inner box that contains the eagle, I decided to stitch single diagonal lines as a fill between the feathers and the circle that surrounded the eagle.
I decided to fill the background inside the circle with stippling.
I often quilt my initials or monogram into the quilts I make.  In this one, a simple monogram is included in one of the feathers at the bottom of the quilt.
 I decided to add cording to the circle channel and the '1792' behind the eagle's head.
I used wool batting but the lines and scale are small enough there just was not enough poof without cording.
For the edges I wanted to echo the feathers all the way out to the edge.
To accomplish this, I used a knife edge finish on all four sides of the quilt before starting the echo quilting.
I alternated the placement of the corner folds of the front and back fabrics to distribute the bulk more evenly.
 With the edges finished, the last step was the echo quilting.

The front of the finished quilt.
The back of the finished quilt.

With the completion of 'Washington's Eagle II' I can check another project off my 'PIP' list.
Happy quilting,

If you are interested in watching an real Bald Eagle family check out the
Berry College Eagle Cam